All-hands meetings are the cornerstone of transparent culture and team alignment in growing companies. If done right, they can bring immediate benefits for your team.
We’ve recently written about what all-hands meetings are and why growing teams should consider running them.
To help you plan one, here is a collection of tips on how to organize an all-hands meeting. It’s based on our own learnings with examples of activities and techniques you can incorporate.
We hope you’ll find them useful.
Preparation is the key to success. So when you start planning your next all-hands meeting, these tips will help you ensure the maximum engagement of your team:
- Set a fixed date: Get the date in people’s diaries early and stick to the same date with agreed regularity. People will remember and they’ll be more likely to attend.
- Have a clear agenda: Set a clear agenda with agreed timings. To ensure you address all the important areas, crowdsource the agenda with the team.
- Appoint a moderator: Dedicate one person to guide people through the meeting, facilitate the discussion and ensure you keep to the timings.
- Share the stage: Invite people from different teams to get involved in planning and delivery to create a collaborative environment.
- Sync with your AV technician: Sync with the person responsible for AV about presentation formats. If you have remote team members, prepare a suitable setup to allow them to join.
All-hands meeting structure
As Gokul Rajaram from Square advises, every successful all-hands meeting should focus 60% of time to drive alignment around mission, goals and strategy, 15% to celebrate people and accomplishments, and 25% to provide a forum to ask and answer questions.
Similarly, at Slido, we structure our all-hands meetings around these three key areas. Below is a summary of tips and activities that we use regularly to align our team, celebrate achievements, and address people’s concerns.
Create alignment around business goals
To drive team alignment and make sure everyone is on the same page, start your all-hands meeting by revisiting your business strategy. Take the opportunity to review the results and progress toward your goals during the past month. You can also use this space to pinpoint the key achievements and introduce new initiatives.
Results and strategy
Kick off by presenting key numbers from the past month and show how they compare with the expected results. This will help your team see where the company is, what is working well and which areas need improvement.
Leverage this time to boost overall morale with ideas for improvement. Revisit your strategy, get people excited about the upcoming milestones and show where small changes can be implemented. This will give your team something to look forward to and motivation to keep working until the next all-hands meeting.
Crowdsource highlights from the team to remind people of the achievements and positive results. Celebrating key moments together is a great way to boost the team spirit and keep everyone up to date with what other teams have been up to.
At Slido, we encourage people to submit their highlights for the past month through the questions feature and let people vote for their favorites. At the end, we go through the list and remind ourselves of the positive stuff.
With the growth of our team, we’ve recently introduced another activity to share the highlights from our regional teams. We choose one person from each department or region and ask him or her to sum up the highlights of the past month in a two-minute time slot.
If regional team members are unable to join the all-hands meeting in person, we ask them to join the meeting remotely via a live streaming tool or record their input in a video.
All-hands meetings can serve as an excellent platform to get the team’s buy-in on new projects. Use this space to introduce new initiatives. But consider carefully which projects are the most important and relevant for the people in the room.
Having all team members tuned in is a great time to communicate important updates and make sure everyone is on the same page. Take this opportunity to let people know what different teams are working on and provide updates on the ongoing projects.
Celebrate people’s achievements
Once you have reviewed the numbers and revisited your strategy, it is crucial to bring the focus back on the team and recognize the work of the people who helped you achieve the good results. Here are a few tips on how to introduce new members, celebrate people’s anniversaries and show recognition of their work.
Introduce new hires
Turn the often-feared self-introductions of the newly hired members into a fun activity. A Newbie Quiz based on the concept of Two Truths and a Lie is an original and effective way to get to know the new hires. Collect two true and one false facts from each newbie, create a series of live polls and let the team guess which one is the lie by voting.
Celebrating people’s milestones as a team is a great way to create a feeling of togetherness and boost the team morale. Find out which employees have their work anniversary in a given month. Use this opportunity to appreciate their contribution and highlight how long they have been with your company.
Acknowledge the top performers
To keep the team morale high and make people feel valued, it is important to recognize people’s individual contributions. All-hands meetings are the perfect platform to do this publicly.
Earlier, we celebrated only the top-performing team members from sales and customer support. But we wanted to recognize all those who work tirelessly in the background too. So we started to celebrate the ‘Unsung Heroes’ in the team during our all-hands meetings.
We ask each team member to nominate a person who helped them the most in the past month and present the names on a screen in a word cloud poll to highlight the names with a greater impact.
Extra Tip: Agree in advance on the format that people will use to submit names. (E.g. first names, nicknames, Slack names, etc.)
Promote transparency with open Q&A
While focusing on the business results and celebrating people is important, it is absolutely crucial to dedicate sufficient time during an all-hands meeting to address employees’ questions.
For us at Slido, holding an open Q&A session with our CEO has become the integral tool that helps us build trust and reinforce transparent company culture. It gives people the opportunity to express their concerns and get their questions answered, even the more difficult ones.
You can divide your Q&A activities into three stages: before, during and after the meeting.
BEFORE: Collect questions in advance
Encourage people to submit their questions before the meeting and let people vote for the ones they want answered the most. Crowdsourcing questions in advance will help the leadership prepare informed answers to the more elaborate questions and make the Q&A session more efficient and democratic.
DURING: Hold a live Q&A session
At the start of your meeting, ask the members to send in any outstanding questions. Also encourage them to vote for the questions that have already been submitted to make the most out of the Q&A time. A popular format is an “Ask Me Anything” session with the leadership team or the CEO.
AFTER: Answer the remaining questions in writing
If you collect more questions than you are able to answer during your dedicated Q&A time slot, you can respond to the questions after the meeting.
For example, Marks & Spencer shared with us in our recent interview that it “creates a document with all [remaining questions] and publishes it, other times [it] groups the similar ones together and then tackles them during one of the related meetings.”
Every successful all-hands meeting should address three key areas. First, highlight your team’s achievements and evaluate how your goals compare against the real numbers. Second, publicly recognize the work of those who made the results possible. And third, dedicate enough time for answering employee questions. As a result, your employees will feel motivated and valued, and your business will thrive.
Crowdsource questions for your next all-hands meeting